What is a total solar eclipse? As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks ("occults") the Sun. This can happen only at new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.
What can I expect during a total solar eclipse? According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com, it is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky. The corona is hidden from us all our lives except for the very special moments during the total solar eclipse.
What time is totality? How long does it last? Columbia is fortunate enough to have one of the longest spans of totality (two minutes, 36 seconds) in the country! Here are the details for August 21st:
Partial Eclipse Begins: 11:45 a.m.
Totality Begins: 1:12 p.m.
Totality Ends: 1:14 p.m.
Partial Eclipse Ends: 2:40 p.m.
Don’t these happen all the time? Partial and transitive solar eclipses are more common, and there was even one over central Missouri in the late 1970s. However, total solar eclipses over this area are extremely rare. The last total solar eclipse over Columbia was hundreds of years ago and the next will be in the 2500s. The next total solar eclipse in the world will be in July 2019 over South America.
Why do I need protective eclipse glasses? Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the Moon entirely blocks the Sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun.
Where should I watch the eclipse?
Cosmo Park: This is the festive place to be for the eclipse! On Sunday, Cosmo is home to the Totality Run, the Totality Ride and the Totality Music Festival. On Monday, Cosmo will have musical acts, food vendors, a kids’ area and, of course, plenty of open space for viewing the eclipse!
Gans Creek Recreation Area: For the eclipse chaser or enthusiast, the low key space at Gans might be just right for you. Vast open space near the ideal line of totality means a quieter space for your celebration. Only restroom facilities will be provided that this location, so bring plenty of food and drink for your stay!
What items are allowed or prohibited? Cosmo Park and Gans Creek Recreation Area are both City of Columbia parks. For the Cosmo Park events, a fenced entertainment area with a beer garden will be open with established entry and exit points.